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Label Love


Dancing lambs, snow tipped mountains, sea princesses, smiley moon faces, factory sheds and made up words! 


If you have been watching our Instagram or Facebook stories for a while you will know I have a complete fascination with blanket labels.  I've never been one for history, preferring the art room and craft table but (wait for it - the dreaded words) "as I've got older" a real appreciation and interest in cycles of life has grown.  I now find value in stories that are fading and a have a desire to regain some of the substance of our heritage in our screen filled world. These little 5cm x 5cm windows share a glimpse back into 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's New Zealand life.



Happy lambs


At face value blanket labels tell us where the blanket was made, what it is made from, who made it and sometimes the blanket has a name.  Labels varied through a companies evolution so are also helpful in dating a blanket. This is useful information!


For the Wellingtonians


Napier, Kaiapoi, Roslyn, Onehunga, Timaru, Wanganui (blanket spelling), Waverly, Milton, Mosgiel, Omaru, Wellington, Ashburton to name a few.  I believe there were 18 major wool mills back in the day.  I have yet to make a defined list but it's on the To-Do list.  These wool mills shaped our home towns, many of us have had family members who worked within the factories.   This creates a sense of connection, familiarity, ownership and pride. I love the sense of journey and connection to our wonderful country.  Yes it's ok to be proud to be a kiwi and what we have created! 




Classic Kiwi imagery


Blanket labels tell us what the blanket is made of.  Wool! Beautiful warm durable, environmentally friendly wool.   Here's a interesting, once in a blue moon secret.  I've had the odd blanket that lied! I sell wool. I can spot it a mile away, and I can tell you if there is acrylic or something else in there.  I'm not sure the labelling was as strict back in the day as it is now.  You make a false claim on a label today and you will get called on it.   Anyways I find that slightly more amusing than anything.  Oh and for peace of mind, on that odd occasion I think that one of our blankets is not pure wool, don't worry I'll let you know.




93%, not 92% or 94% :)


The blanket labels give us some information about us as a people.  Many link to our Maori heritage with beautiful stories of vulnerability and strength.  Scottish bloodlines, many of whom made up our first sheep farmers and there is the occasional curious international reference.  For example El Rey and Calypso blankets - was there a Mexican influence at some point? 
 

 


Margarita anyone?



I see some interesting companies too who commissioned blankets to be made.  I love seeing the old Farmers logo come up frequently.  Other familiar ones like Rendells, Smith & Brown, Lincot along with less familiar names that have closed or been bought out over the years.




Dreamwarm with happy moon faces for Rendells and the familiar Woolmark logo.



Blanket labels are fun. I always get a giggle from some of the made up words.  I suspect blanket manufacturers of the 70's didn't take themselves too seriously! We have Cuddlesnug, Galaxie, Fleeso, Wondawarm, Warma, Cosylite, Osowarm, Mountie, Robinwul... just say those words out loud and tell me you don't feel a little happier! And that's just few.




One of my favourites, pretty in pink


And finally some labels are just beautiful.  They really are little pieces of art.  I have my favourites.  Usually embroidered with detail and fine design.

 

 

Robinwul did a few different versions of this.  Always lovely.



Fun fact: Blankets were often sold in pairs or even fours.  The top blanket only got the label. 

Fun fact: Wool ALWAYS outlives the label (and the satin in a edged blanket). 

Fun fact: Embroidered labels last longer than printed ones.  And yes if you iron your label too hot it WILL melt...lol.

Fun fact: Some labels are collectible and raise the value of a blanket.

 


Our use of words have evolved over the years

 


I do get asked this from time to time, yes I do have a label collection but in case you are wondering I have a firm rule - I never remove a label from a useable blanket.  My label collection comes purely from blankets that are destined for the SPCA or feline rescues that I donate too.  I occasionally sell the odd double up label.  I think they look neat in frames but again, only ever from an unrestorable blanket.

 

  

Thank goodness the mills sometimes included the clan name.  So many tartans with subtle differences. 



Well, I hope you learned something new.  Even if only to notice the labels in your own linen cupboard (blankets on beds people!) in a fresh way or further cement that I am a blanket weirdo. haha.   If you have label and blanket original info or stories to share I'd love to hear it.  Please send me a message or leave a comment below.  I will finish this Blog post by taking liberties with Forrest Gump 's well known quote.  Life is like NZ wool blanket, you never know what you're going to get.  
Have wonderful and warm day beautiful people!

Kathleenx




Fab view of the Kaiapoi Wool Mill.




6 comments

  • Kia ora Kathleen
    Great to come across your post on the NZ Wool Products facebook page. I have been working with old NZ wool blankets for a while now. Check out my Instagram page @crazy.brave. I love the old labels too and have quite a collection. I make word cushions and blanket vests, pin cushions, baby blankets out of old NZ Wool blankets. I suspect mine are not in as good condition as yours since I cut them up and use the good bits. Any big bits left that are not useable due to marks/stains, go to dog rescue and small bits/scraps into pin cushions. Really enjoyed your blanket label post. Will keep an eye out for you when I am in Auckland next.
    Ngā mihi
    Lynette

    Lynette Cooper
  • Hi guys, thank you so much for your encouragement. So this funny blog doesn’t let me reply individually so I hope you see this!
    Thank you Marie! Something we can gloss over so easy – it’s just a label right? So much to learn by these little 5×5s.

    Hi Catherine, yes you are onto it! Wool washing 101 is in the works. It may take a few weeks before I get it finished only because I want to do a really good job with a video and all since it will be post I direct people to frequently. Stay tuned! Ha yes I actually think its a bit weird they didn’t label them all.

    Hi Emma, Thank you for reading! I don’t feel like I know enough.. always learning! :)

    Hi Lois, I have a couple of art projects in the works using my spare labels. Just time and all. I think they would make great displays for my market events. On the to-do list LOL . Thank you for reading and your encouragement!

    Kathleenxx

    Kathleen
  • This is so fascinating Kathleen! A truly NZ heritage story! Love your work!

    Marie Mitchell
  • Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I enjoy your Facebook posts of your beautifully restored blankets so much. Have come to appreciate wool blankets with age also. I don’t know if you would share how to wash and care for these blankets better(trade secrets?). I have often wondered about the blanket pairs one with label and the other not – now I know!

    Catherine
  • So much history behind our humble NZ wool blankets… Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    Emma

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